Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/261

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XXVI.
251
THE BOSTONIANS.

'Why, I go if I think I may find you there,' the young man replied, gallantly. 'My card mentioned that Miss Tarrant would give an address, and I knew that wherever she is you are not far off. I have heard you are inseparable, from Mrs. Luna.'

'Yes, we are inseparable. That is exactly why I am here.'

'It's the fashionable world, then, you are going to stir up.'

Olive remained for some time with her eyes fastened to the floor; then she flashed them up at her interlocutor. 'It's a part of our life to go anywhere—to carry our work where it seems most needed. We have taught ourselves to stifle repulsion, distaste.'

'Oh, I think this is very amusing,' said Ransom. 'It's a beautiful house, and there are some very pretty faces. We haven't anything so brilliant in Mississippi.'

To everything he said Olive offered at first a momentary silence, but the worst of her shyness was apparently leaving her.

'Are you successful in New York? do you like it?' she presently asked, uttering the inquiry in a tone of infinite melancholy, as if the eternal sense of duty forced it from her lips.

'Oh, successful! I am not successful as you and Miss Tarrant are; for (to my barbaric eyes) it is a great sign of prosperity to be the heroines of an occasion like this.'

'Do I look like the heroine of an occasion?' asked Olive Chancellor, without an intention of humour, but with an effect that was almost comical.

'You would if you didn't hide yourself away. Are you not going into the other room to hear the speech? Everything is prepared.'

'I am going when I am notified—when I am invited.'

There was considerable majesty in her tone, and Ransom saw that something was wrong, that she felt neglected. To see that she was as ticklish with others as she had been with him made him feel forgiving, and there was in his manner a perfect disposition to forget their differences as